Eagles kept draft interests vague to land WR DeVonta Smith

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Adam Hermann
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How Howie Roseman used smokescreen to land DeVonta Smith originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Heading into the first night of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Eagles' first-round interests were widely accepted: Howie Roseman was either eyeing a top cornerback (Patrick Surtain II or Jaycee Horn) or a top wide receiver (Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith).

Except, according to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport, Roseman was deploying a long-game smokescreen in the days and weeks leading up to the Draft in order to get his man.

Here's what happened, according to Rapoport:

"The Philadelphia Eagles, everyone knew they were making calls kind of quietly about potentially trading up. It was obvious: they were going for a cornerback. It was a clear need, it was what they were going to do. But that was not the case.

"Howie Roseman always wanted a receiver. He always wanted DeVonta Smith.

"And then of course you have the Dallas Cowboys, another team who everyone assumed wanted a corner. They did not: Micah Parsons was always their target, so the Eagles moved up just a little bit, leap-frogged the Giants, who I'm told were going to take DeVonta Smith, the Eagles get their guy, get a weapon for their young quarterback."

You've got to love a little Draft night subterfuge.

This is a good sign for Roseman, whose draft approaches in the past have sometimes left the Eagles vulnerable in Draft-night trade negotiations - like in 2020, when he seemed to broadcast the team's interest in picking a wide receiver.

This time around Roseman knew to keep the Eagles' apparent interests more vague, and it paid off.

Is there an alternate reality in which Smith goes off the board before the Eagles' pick and Roseman has to take someone like Horn at No. 12? Yeah, probably. That was probably their backup plan. Luckily, the first plan worked out.

Making sure you get your guy, no matter what it takes, is part of what a general manager is paid to do during the Draft. Score this one as a W on the Roseman score sheet.

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